Part 2 of the Sharks draft review

By pbadmin
Here is Part 2 of the Sharks draft review. If you missed Part 1, read it here:
Again, this is an in-depth look back at every player the San Jose Sharks drafted during 1991-1995. This article will look back at the 94 and 95 drafts. At the end, there is a small recap of recent San Jose Sharks news. Enjoy!

1994 Entry Draft

11th Jeff Friesen
37th Angel Nikolov
66th Alexei Yegorov
89th Vaclav Varada
115th Brian Swanson
141st Alexander Korolyuk
167th Sergei Gorbachev
193rd Eric Landry
219th Evegni Nabokov
240th Tomas Pisa
245th Aniket Dhadphale
271st David Beauregard

The 1994 draft is probably the strongest the Sharks had from 91-95. It will probably go down as one of the better drafts of all-time for the Sharks (so far up there with 1997 and 1998). The Sharks were able to get a stud with the 11th pick (Jeff Friesen who could turn out to be the best player of the 94 class). The impressive part of this draft was the talent the Sharks got in the later rounds. Varada has turned into a key player in Buffalo, Korolyuk is awesome young forward who figures into the Sharks future, Nabokov is a solid goalie prospect, and Landry has NHL potential.

With the 11th pick, the Sharks drafted Jeff Friesen. Friesen is a fan favorite, assistant captain, and a solid overall player. Jeff jumped straight from Regina of the WHL into the NHL and has produced every year. The best thing is that Jeff isn’t even 25 years old yet! His age surprises many people, because he has played since 94/95 and is so poise. Jeff is one of the best young forwards in the NHL, and he is reaching his prime! Jeff is bound to have his breakthrough 75+ point season soon! Jeff is so fast with or without the puck. He has the rare ability to break away from defenders during one-on-one situations. Jeff at times is inconsistent, but he is still young. Jeff is also very versatile player who can score in many situations. He’s good at even-strength, on the power-play, and a threat to score short-handed. Consistency will come with more experience and maturity as a player. Jeff is one of the cornerstones of the Sharks franchise. Overall, this is a GREAT pick!!!!

Although Vaclav Varada (89th overall) unfortunately has never played in a Sharks uniform, he is still one solid NHL player. He is feisty, feisty, and more feisty! Every since I first saw him play on the Buffalo Sabers (they got him from the Sharks in the Bill Houlder deal), I’ve loved Vaclav’s game! He does not give up on plays, and he likes the rough stuff. Along with being a good energy player, Vaclav can also chip in offensively. Vaclav, like many Buffalo Sabers, are versatile. Getting a player like Vaclav at 89 tells tales of Sharks scouting!

Another diamond in the rough was 141st overall pick Alexander Korolyuk. “Korky” as he’s known to Sharks fans is one of the most exciting Sharks to watch. Korky has great skills! He is very solid at all aspects of the game. Korky has great hands, which accounts for his fantastic stick-handling abilities. Korky is the best stick-handler on the Sharks, and he often will make defenders look silly! His skating is top notch and so is his speed. He also has a surprisingly hard shot! Korky is at his best creating plays, especially from behind or around the net. Korky is very keen at drawing penalties. With his slick footwork, speed, and stick-handling among other things, he is able to get by/around defenders and drawing forcing them to haul him down. Korky is not big (5’9, 190 lbs.), but he plays feisty and bigger than his size. As of today, his biggest drawback is his consistency. There was a stretch of games late in the season that Korky was a healthy scratch for. Not to worry as almost all young players go through it. I have been a huge fan of Korky, and I know he will soon put out straight 50-65 point seasons with the Sharks! He will factor in big time to the future of the Sharks! He is probably the best late round find by the Sharks (and they’ve found a lot!).

A big factor in judging this draft is the development of 219th overall selection, Evegni Nabokov. Over the past few years, Evegni has developed himself into a legitimate goaltending prospect. He is among the growing amount of NHL players/prospects from Kazakhstan (Nik Antropov, Pavel Vorobiev to name a few prominent ones). Evegni showed that he has all the tools to be a goalie in the NHL. During his first start, he garnered a shutout tie against Patrick Roy, stopping tons of Avalanche chances. After seeing the development of current Sharks goaltenders (Steve Shields, Evegni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff, Vesa Toskala, and Johan Hedberg), the Sharks traded away Mike Vernon for Todd Harvey or “Harvey Danger” as he is affectionately known on NHL2Night on ESPN2. Nabokov looks like he will be a good one and another late round gem uncovered by the Sharks.

With the 193rd overall selection, the Sharks called out the name of Eric Landry. I don’t believe the Sharks signed Eric the first time around. Eric started his professional career with Edmonton and Calgary afterwards. Eric was reacquired from the Flames after the 99 season. Eric has had some very solid seasons in the minors, and he has a chance to make it as a NHL 3rd/4th line center. He’s a competitive and hard worker, who plays larger than his 5’11. Eric has excellent speed. Eric is not afraid to mix it up (had 194 PIM’s in 97/98). He is a pest-like player who is very good defensively. He had almost a life-threatening illness at the age of 15, but he battled through it. He is an underdog to make it, but you cannot count him out. He’s a type of player you pull for to make it! Just in, the Montreal Canadiens have just signed Eric to a one year contract! Good luck to Eric!

The rest of the 1994 draft picks have not fared as well NHL-wise. Angel Nikolov (37th overall) is still a member of the Sharks organization, and he has been playing in Litvonov of the Czech league. His chances of playing in the NHL are not very good. Alexei Yegorov (66th overall) and Korolyuk were the two talented Russian wingers drafted by the Sharks in 94. Korolyuk panned out, while Alexei did not. He split last season with Long Beach of the IHL and Adirondack of the UHL. Brain Swanson (115th overall) had four very solid seasons with Colorado College (232 points in 167 games). Brain is currently in the Edmonton organization, and he racked up 59 points with Hamilton of the AHL last season. The 167th pick was Sergei Gorbachev. To tell you the truth, I have no idea where he is today. I don’t believe he has made it over to North America. He is not with the Sharks organization anymore. With the 240th picks, the Sharks selected Tomas Pisa. He was last spotted in the WPHL with the Waco Wizards in 97/98. Aniket Dhadphale (245th overall) spent four decent years with Notre Dame. He was not signed by the Sharks, and spent his first professional season (99/00) with Greensboro and Roanoke of the ECHL, where he totaled 49 points. David Beauregard was the final pick by the Sharks in 94 (271st overall). He has bounced around in many leagues since leaving the QMJHL. He played last year in the ECHL with Greensboro and Charlotte, amassing 56 points.

1995 Entry Draft

12th Teemu Riihijarvi
38th Peter Roed
64th Marko Makinen
90th Vesa Toskala
116th Miikka Kiprusoff
130th Michal Bros
140th Timo Hakanen
142nd Jaroslav Kudrna
167th Brad Mehalko
168th Robert Jindrich
194th Ryan Kraft
220th Mikko Markkanen

The 1995 draft was not the best the Sharks will ever have. A few years afterwards, it looked like the Sharks could wind up without ANY NHL players at all. This was the infamous year when the Sharks drafted 9 Europeans out of their 12 total choices. Five years after it, this draft is looking better everyday. The current batch of legitimate prospects from 95 (Kiprusoff, Toskala, Jindrich) did not come into prominence until recently. After a few more years, then we’ll really know the impact of this draft. Assuming that Kiprusoff and/or Toskala turns into a solid NHL goalie and Jindrich becomes a decent defenseman, this draft will save major embarrassment to the Sharks.

How can you mention the 1995 Sharks draft without mentioning Teemu Riihijarvi, who surprisingly went 12th. Teemu had a solid season in the Finnish Jr. league in his draft year, putting up good offensive numbers. Unfortunately the big winger has not been able to carrying any type of scoring touch to the Finnish “Men’s” league. Over the last six years (yes, it has been that long), Teemu has posted a lackluster 28 points (17 G, 11 A) in 190 games. I’ve read from one Finnish writer who believes that Teemu’s game is more suited for the smaller North American rinks. Personally I would like to see the Sharks sign him, and bring him to North America. If he turns out to be a complete bust, then the Sharks can finally give up on him. But if he makes a good showing, you never know. One thing going for Teemu is his ruggedness, and he plays “Darryl Sutter Hockey.” He’s a long-shot, but a long-shot is still a shot.

Miikka Kiprusoff, the 116th pick is currently the top goaltending prospect in the Sharks organization. Miikka finally made it to North America this year, and he spent the season with Kentucky of the AHL. He was the starter for Kentucky, and he appeared in 47 games. Miikka was started for PlanetUSA in the AHL All-Star Game, and was one of the best goaltenders in the AHL. “The Finnisher” as he is nicknamed, adjusted nicely to life and hockey in North America. It often takes Europeans players a season or two to start producing well in North America (Evegni Nabokov had a sub-par first season with Kentucky in 97/98), but Miikka came in immediately, and he showed his worth. Before making his North American splash, he dominated the high-scoring Finnish League with a 1.86 GAA, 26 wins, an amazingly low 6 losses, 4 shutouts, and a .936 Save % for TPS Turku. He followed that up with a spectacular season with Kentucky recording a 2.48 GAA, 23 wins, 19 losses, 4 ties, 3 shutouts, and a very respectable Save % of .924. He could very possibly turn into the best of the Sharks current goaltender prospects. If Miikka keeps developing, he has a legitimate shot to be a starting goaltender. With the new breed of Finnish gaoltenders (Kiprusoff, Toskala, Mika Noronen, Ari Ahonen, etc), the days of Jarmo Myllys as the best Finnish NHL goaltender will soon be over. If Miikka has a very strong training camp, he has an outside shot to supplant Nabokov as the backup to Steve Shields next year.

The second top goaltending prospect nabbed by the Sharks (90th overall) was Vesa Toskala. Vesa has just recently gotten the attention of the Sharks and the rest of the NHL in the past few seasons. Vesa dominated the high-scoring Finnish league for a average Ilves Tampere team in 98/99 posting a 2.14 GAA, 21 wins, 12 losses, 5 shutouts, and a .916 Save %. He spent last season playing with Färjestad in the Swedish Elite League. He started for the Färjestad Wolves, and he has just recently signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks. Vesa will finally be making his way to North America. I have read that Vesa plays like Dominik Hasek. He does not have a definite goaltending style, which makes his play unique (or strange depending on your perspective). He seems to be the most exciting (to watch) of the current goaltenders in the Sharks system. The next few seasons will tell if Vesa has what it takes to play well in the NHL.

Peter Roed, the 38th overall choice in 1995 spent last year with Kentucky of the AHL. He was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Sharks and will become an UFA. While with Kentucky last year, he recorded 32 points. Currently, Peter’s pick is not looking too hot. Marko Makinen, 64th overall is back in Europe after a few seasons playing in North American minors. He is back in the Finnish League with HIFK Helsinki. The 130th choice that year was Michal Bros. After some productive years in Europe, Michal was recently selected in the Expansion Draft by the Minnesota Wild. Timo Hakanen (140th overall) has spent the last four (or more) seasons with Assat Pori in Finland. In 181 games, Timo has scored 33 points. Jaroslav Kudrna, the 142nd pick in 1995 was last spotted in 1996/97, playing seven games with the Kentucky Thoroughblades. Brad Mehalko, 167th overall is not with the Sharks anymore. He spent last year with the Canadian National Team. Ryan Kraft, 194th overall, spent parts of last year in the ECHL, AHL, and the IHL, but still had a solid 81 points. Since graduation the University of Minnesota, Ryan has had three decent professional years (most of which he spent with the Richmond Renegades of the ECHL). I could not find out where Mikko Markkanen, (220th overall), is currently playing (if he is still playing professional hockey, it is mostly in Europe).

It’s still a little too early to judge Sharks drafts from 1996-2000. Overall, the Sharks did decently for themselves in drafting from 91-95. While there were a share of “busts,” the Sharks have found many late round gems. The trend looks to continue (Mark Smith, Jim Fahey, Adam Colagiacomo, Miroslav Zalesak, Willie Levesque, and Matt Bradley to name a few who were all selected from 82 to 219 overall from 1996 to the present). Late round gems are crucial to all NHL teams. The Ottawa Senators are another great example. They have built their team on solid drafting and scouting, especially in the later rounds (Pavol Demitra, although he made his impact with the St. Louis Blues, Daniel Alfredsson, Sami Salo, Magnus Arvedson, and Petr Schastlivy to name the prominent ones).

Recent San Jose Sharks News:

The Montreal Canadiens signed Eric Landry to a one year contract for the upcoming season.

List of Sharks free agents:

Group 2 (restricted free agents):
Owen Nolan
Steve Shields
Patrick Marleau
Marco Sturm
Alexander Korolyuk
Marcus Ragnarsson
Niklas Sundstrom
Todd Harvey
Evegni Nabokov
Todd Harvey
Christian Gosselin

Group 3 (unrestricted free agents):
Jeff Norton
Ron Sutter
Dave Lowry

Group 5 (basically an unrestricted free agent):
Mike Craig

Group 6 (basically an unrestricted free agent):
Eric Landry
Jarrett Deuling
Jon Coleman

Unrestricted free agents (not tendered a qualifying offer):
Jarrod Skalde
Brantt Myhres
Peter Roed
Garrett Burnett

The Sharks signed Group V free agent center Scott Thornton away from the Dallas Stars. Scott elected to become an unrestricted free agent, and signed with the Sharks. The Sharks did not release official terms of the deal, but it is believed to be worth around $4 million dollars over four years.

Sharks signed undrafted Slovakian free agent right winger Zoltan Batovsky out of Drummondville of the QMJHL. He is 5’11 and 186 pounds. Zolton had 87 points (consisting of 27 goals and 60 assists). The previous year, Zoltan had 71 points on 29 goals and 42 assists.

Sharks also signed their 5th round draft pick of the 1998 draft, right winger, Mikael Samuelsson (to read more about Mikael, check out of the Swedish Elite League. He played with Brynas last year, and he has a great postseason, recording 7 goals and 2 assists in 11 games!

The Sharks recently chose their two 2000/01 assistant coaches. Cap Raeder (who has been a Sharks scout the last three years), who has previous NHL assistant coaching experience. Rich Preston, was named the other assistant. He has been an assistant to both Darrly and Brain Sutter in the past (Chicago and Calgary the last three years).

The Sharks lost Michal Bros and Chris Armstrong in the recent Expansion Draft.

Any and all feedback is welcomed at! Feel free to email me with comments, suggestions, or just to talk about hockey in general! Before I sign off, I could not have written this without the help of, the Internet Hockey Database! This is where I went to find out about more obscure players (come on, where else am I going to go to find out info about Dean Grillo, etc). Check out their site! Vitals and stats of almost every player every drafted by the NHL/WHL. Plus, virtually complete trading card checklists by player and set! GREAT SITE!